This week’s face-off is turning the attention away from Washington and back onto the states. Congressmen (and women) and presidential hopefuls aren’t the only ones who have learned to use social media to increase their online presence. Governors from across the United States use social media daily to share updates on the work they are doing, rally state pride, converse with other politicians, and even sometimes reply directly to their constituents.
The Top 10 Gubernatorial users of social media come from all regions of the continental United States and even Puerto Rico, but one distinction is immediately clear: Republican governors dominate the board when it comes to social media activity. Eight of the Top 10 places are held by Republicans.
Social media prominence is determined by an index that includes total Facebook Fans, Twitter Followers, Twitter mentions and popularity of Re-Tweets over the course of the past month.
Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) rises to prominence as the top social media user through his impressive collection of Twitter followers- a total of 1,084,028 at the time of this publishing. Of course, total number of Twitter followers should be taken with a grain of salt, especially if the numbers seem a little too good to be true. Brown’s gubernatorial Twitter feed was re-born in September 2010, and somehow between September 17 and 19 he catapulted from 0 to 1,105,182 followers. Since that time, weathering a few ups and downs, Brown has a few less followers now than he did a year and a half ago, but still about 800,000 more than the nearest competitor.
Jan Brewer (R-AZ) earned a lot of attention through a February 26 snapshot of her finger-wagging at President Obama on an Arizona tarmac. Whether or not social media users approved of Brewer’s demeanor in inviting the President to lunch, the event made the rounds on Facebook and Twitter. It was also the day she expressed her support for Mitt Romney before the Arizona primary, which in turn boosted the governor’s own popularity.
Interestingly, both Jerry Brown and second place Jan Brewer themselves follow only 59 and 97 people respectively. Nearly every other Top 10 Governor follows Twitter handles in the hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands. A low amount of follows for others indicates a disinterest in engaging with the community. Individuals who don’t follow others in their community don’t have an opportunity to see what others are saying. While Twitter is certainly for giving information, it’s also for receiving, a fundamental part of the two-way street the top two governors on our list are missing.
Third place Rick Perry is still riding the social media wave from his stint as a presidential candidate. Before his race exit on January 19, he had gained a substantial amount of Facebook Fans and Twitter Followers, which ensures he will remain, numbers-wise, at the top of the list for awhile.
Bobby Jindal (R-LA) hosted his State of the State address on March 12, which earned a lot of attention on social media, especially over his policies on education reform.
“RT @BobbyJindal: The moral imperative to improve education is more than economic _ it goes to the heart of the American Dream. #BelieveInLA,” read one Tweet from Jindal’s feed, retweeted by several followers.
The award for most dichotomous activity on social media over the past month goes to Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ), whose stance on vetoing the proposed Gay Marriage equality bill was overshadowed only by his decision to lower the NJ flag to half-staff for Whitney Houston’s funeral the next day. In a perfect example of why nothing a politician does will ever please anyone, Christie’s attempt to honor the Jersey-born singer drew ire from those who insisted the icon didn’t deserve it.
“Thanks @govchristie for degrading the meaning of an American tradition. A half staffed flag has a deeper meaning for Americans.”
Well, you can’t win ‘em all. And, for the record, a large amount of tweets commended Christie for his choice in lowering the flag for Houston’s funeral. The equality bill is another story.
Attention shifted to Virginia this past month, as the contentious Personhood Bill was signed by Governor Bob McDonnell, which will require a woman to receive an ultrasound before having an abortion. Twitter was decidedly negative over the decision, but Facebook reveals a steady increase in Fans for the governor over the past month, showing a quieter side of support.